To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Toward a Poetry & Poetics of the Americas (27): Independence Event & Ritual (Haiti) with Addendum by Javier Taboada

                                                       painting by Ernst Prophète (Haitian/Cap-Haitien, b. 1950)

Dutty Boukman, [aka. Zamba Boukman], (Haiti, d. 1791)

1. Grab a pig
2. Congregate the people & start a fire
3. Promise to Ezili Dantor –the spirit of vengeance and rage – that all of you will rise up & defeat the invader.
4. See the mambo priestess be possessed by the aforementioned spirit.
5. Say the following:

the god who created
the giving-light sun     the one who rouses
 the ocean & rules the thunder            our God
he who has ears to hear     you    
hidden in a cloud
you see all    
all the white man has made

the white man's god inspires him with crime
the god within us     our god     the just
commands us to avenge our wrongs
he will direct our arms to victory   
he will

let’s cast away the pitiless image
of the white men's god

listen to the voice for liberty that speaks within us

5. Slay the pig.
6. Seal the pact by drinking a cup of its blood.

Reworked by Javier Taboada.


source.  The Caribbean Oral Tradition: Literature, Performance, and Practice, ed. by Hanétha Vété-Congolo, Palgrave, Macmillan, 2016, p. 167 & ss.

Bois-Caïman (lit. “Alligator Forest”) in northern Haiti was the site for the political, religious & strategic assembly that on the night of August 14th, 1791, sparked the revolution against the French colonizers. It is said that Dutty Boukman, a voodoo houngan – shaman or high priest -- led a sacrificial pig slain along with Cécile Fatiman (a mambo priestess), a ritual now considered as the official start of the Haitian Independence movement. Many Haitians believe that it assured their success & up to date Bois-Caïman is regarded as a holy place.

Javier Taboada (Mexico, b. 1982)
                                            1)      2)  3)      4)             5)            6)             7)      8)   9)  10)   11)  12) 
                                                                                                                                                                               A   B C
(this is—graphically—
the voice of a pig
in its last 20 secs. of life)

        The pig is tied by the neck      1)
        Pig head at maximum tension: vocal peak     3)
        The pig halts or becomes exhausted   2), 5), 7), 10)
        Pig kicks/ pulls/ tries to free itself      4), 6), 8), 11)
        A swineherd’s mallet falls on the floor      9)
        The pig receives three blows to the head      A, B, C
        Bloodletting begins       12)

(an appeal
     or pace Gombrowicz.:  OBJECTIVISM
                  arising directly from anesthesia
that is    
this is no longer
    —no no no—
the voice of a tortured pig       

the artist
transforms it as
just so
Sublime as
Art should be)

                                                  Translated from the Spanish by Cole Heinowitz

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